Soccer rapist who shamed Blades

Convicted criminal: Ched Evans was sent to jail for five years
Convicted criminal: Ched Evans was sent to jail for five years
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Today we look back to early spring in our week-long series Review of 2012. Stacey Hallam brings you the news that shocked South Yorkshire... and an adorable kitten too

21.04.2012

The man Blades fans said had brought shame on the club and should never pull on a Sheffield United shirt again, Ched Evans was convicted as a rapist in April.

The Blades and Wales striker began a five-year jail term after he was found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman who was too drunk to consent to have sex in a hotel room in North Wales.

Evans, aged 23, who wept in the moments before the verdict was delivered, insisted he was innocent as his lawyers planned a possible appeal.

His shocked girlfriend pledged to stand by him and vowed: “We’re going to get him out for sure.”

And even after the verdict said: “He has done nothing wrong.”

But furious Blades fans didn’t feel the same as they said their star striker had brought shame on their club.

Evans’ lawyers said in a statement: “Ched Evans is shocked and extremely disappointed with the decision reached today by the jury at Caernarfon Crown Court to convict him of the charge brought against him.

“Mr Evans firmly maintains his innocence in this matter and is being advised regarding an appeal of the decision.”

The court heard both men admitted having sex with the woman, who cannot be named, but the prosecution said she was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.

Judge Merfyn Hughes QC, in issuing the sentence, told Evans he might have been used to receiving attention from women in the past due to his success as a footballer, but this case was ‘very different’.

“You have thrown away the successful career in which you were involved, ” he told Evans.

Sheffield United said: “The club recognises the seriousness of these events and as such wishes to respond in a responsible way when it has taken sufficient time to consider the matter fully.”

Co-defendant Clayton McDonald, a Port Vale defender, was found not guilty of the same charge.

And the case didn’t end there, as three men were arrested for revealing the victim’s name on the internet, despite her having the promise of anonymity for life by law.

01.03.2012

The beginning of March saw Sheffield Wednesday’s sensational sacking of Gary Megson.

His dismissal sparked a guessing game of who would become Milan Mandaric’s next manager, with former Cardiff boss Dave Jones the odds-on favourite with the bookies.

It was understood that Megson, 52, was summoned especially to Hillsborough to be told of his fate...a sacking in spite of his victory over Sheffield United on the 26th of February.

Relations between Megson and Mandaric had been frosty, yet the chairman did not go into specifics over why he’d ditched Megson.

He said: “This was a very difficult decision but one taken with the best interests of Wednesday at heart. I understand this may not be the most popular decision amongst supporters but I ask them to trust me, as they have done so wholeheartedly during the time I’ve been at the club.

“Whilst we won a huge game last Sunday, I have looked at results before that to reach the conclusion which I believe is the right one for now and the future.

“One chapter is closed and another one begins. We must now look forward and I hope to appoint a new manager as soon as possible to help achieve success for this club.”

Three successive defeats and the worsening of Megson’s relationship with Mandaric led to a speculation that he would be sacked if the third-placed Owls lost the derby. But victory against United appeared to take the heat off. Many fans were both surprised and appalled by the decision and its timing.

23.03.2012

‘DRESSED for success’ - Who can forget the unveiling of Team GB’s kit for the summer London Olympics?

Jessica Ennis, 26, a face of the games, also became the body as she helped to model the official TeamGB kit, which was revealed amid much fanfare and Lycra at the Tower of London.

Jess, who won gold in the heptathlon, featured in official photos with fellow Olympians, cyclists Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and tennis star Andy Murray.

The former King Ecgbert’s schoolgirl posed in the women’s track and field outfit and also showed off the warm-up gear.

Adidas, manufacturer of the kit, said that lightweight and breathable fabrics had been used to help cool and stabilise the body. The distinctive red footwear wore by the athletes were on average 25 per cent lighter than those produced for the Beijing Games.

And Team GB really flew the flag as top designer Stella McCartney, appointed by Adidas as creative director, based the outfits for all 26 Olympic sports on the red, white and blue of the Union flag.

“The first place to start on a project like this is to look at the Union flag,” said the daughter of former Beatles legend Sir Paul.

“It’s one of the most beautiful flags in the world and it was important for me to stay true to that iconic design but also to modernise it and present it in a contemporary way.”

30.03.2012

PANIC buyers queued at petrol pumps across South Yorkshire in late March- with staff forced to act as forecourt marshals to prevent tempers flaring.

Motorists flocked to the pumps ignoring calls not to queue after the Government told drivers to fill up half-empty tanks.

Filling stations reported a massive increase in trade - with many running out of fuel because of the high demand. A worker at the Tesco petrol station on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, said it was ‘horrendous’ on the forecourt.

The employee said: “We opened at 6am and within 15 minutes we were busy and had queues.

“At certain points in the day we had people queuing on the main road outside - it was horrendous.”

A Morrison’s spokesman said staff at their petrol station on Poplar Way, Catcliffe, acted as marshals to reduce congestion and prevent arguments.

Police urged South Yorkshire motorists to stay calm and act responsibly as panic buying swept the pumps.

Panic was sparked by 2,000 tanker drivers in the Unite union - who supply around 90 per cent of UK forecourts - threatening to strike over working conditions and pay.

Duminda Rathnayakage, sales assistant at Shell on Netherthorpe Road, said: “It has been really busy because people are panicking. We have got almost no diesel.”

But many motorists were not caught up in the panic buying.

David Allen, 47, a health and safety manager, from Dinnington, said he saw a huge queue of motorists at Catcliffe Morrisons.

He said: “I was merely an astonished spectator. The queue was so long that Morrison’s had to deploy five traffic marshals to maintain traffic continuity. I wouldn’t expect that it is too long before they run dry.”

And it wasn’t, with many petrol stations out of fuel the next day.

28.04.2012

THIS little kitty got into trouble late-April when its owners had to call the fire brigade to save it.

The adorable kitten was trapped for over three hours in a washing machine at a house in Doncaster.

The eight-week-old kitten managed to get stuck half way through an air vent near the bottom of the appliance when it put its head through and found it could not get itself out.

The owners called the RSPCA to their home in Great North Road but the inspector was also unable to rescue it.

Eventually the experts from Adwick fire station were sent out and within a few minutes had released the kitten.

Pictures taken by one of the firefighters show the delicate operation and how the kitten, thankfully, is none the worse after its traumatic ordeal.